Historic Route of Ethiopia

A walk with archaeologist Dr. Yohannes Zeleke through Ethiopia's rich past and present. 

Day 01:  Arrive Addis Ababa

Arrive in Addis Ababa (ADD), Ethiopia. Welcome to Ethiopia! Upon arrival at Addis Ababa Bole International Airport, you will be welcomed and assisted by your tour guide and driver for the transfer to Hotel. There will be a short drive to your hotel.


Addis Ababa, founded in 1886 by Menelik II, is situated at an elevation of 2,500 meters (8000 ft.) above sea level. It is also one of the highest capital city in the world, after La Paz and Quito in South America. The city enjoys an excellent climate all year round, with an average temperature of 25C (77F). With multicultural population of over 5 million, Addis Ababa is a pleasant city with wide avenues of jacarandas, interesting museums, and one of the largest open-air markets in Africa, known as the "Mercato".


The rest of the day city tour of Addis Ababa which include: a lectured tour at the National Museum which houses Lucy, Ethnographic Museum and Mercato the largest open air market in Africa. 


Accommodation: Jupiter Hotel-Addis Ababa. (Meals: B/L/D). 


Day 02:  Addis Ababa-Bahirdar

In the morning, drive to Bahirdar through the Great Blue Nile Gorge with a stopover at different small towns like Dejen, Chancho and Goha Tsion.


The Blue Nile Gorge is a majestic and enormous river gorge and it is one of the most captivating gorges in Africa. It has a magnificent, alluring physical feature and natural beauty.


Accommodation: Avanti Blue Nile Hotel -Bahirdar (Meals: B/L/D). 

Day 03: Lake Tana-Blue Nile Falls-Bahir Dar

In the morning, we will make boat cruise over Lake Tana to visit the ancient 14th century island monasteries of Lake Tana. The 37 islands of Lake Tana shelter twenty monasteries-surviving remnants of an old, contemplative tradition. Because of their isolation, they were used to store treasures and religious relics from all parts of the country.  The Lake’s monasteries are famous for their typical Ethiopian religious paintings, illuminated manuscripts, and other ancient church treasures. The monasteries that we are going to visit include Kibran Gebriel, Ura Kidane Mihret and Azua Mariam.


After having lunch at the hotel, we will drive 35 KM to visit the majestic Blue Nile Falls. 30 KM after it exits Lake Tana, the Blue Nile plunges over a 45m-high face to form one of the most spectacular waterfall in Africa. Walking to the fall through the beautiful river gorge on the ancient bridge from the 17th century, and meeting the local people at the small villages on the way to the fall is also a great experience.


Accommodation: Avanti Blue Nile Hotel -Bahirdar (Meals: B/L/D). 

Day 04: Bahir Dar-Gondar

After breakfast, drive to Gondar through the beautiful countryside scenery to arrive at Gondar around lunchtime. After check in to Goha Hotel and having lunch there, we will start city tour of Gondar. Gondar, founded by Emperor Fasiledas around 1635 is famous for its many medieval castles and the design and decoration of its churches-in particular, Debre Birhan Selassie represents a masterpiece of unique Ethiopian School of traditional art.


Today you will visit the Royal Enclosure, a walled compound having 6 different castles built from 17th century by different kings who ruled in different times, the pool of King Fasilidas which still serves as a baptismal pool during Ethiopian Epiphany and we will also visit the famous Deberberhan Sillassie adorned with brilliant frescos from inside.


Accommodation: Goha Hotel. (Meals: B/L/D). 

Day 05: Gondar-Simien Mountains

After an early breakfast, we will drive to the Simien mountains National park. En-route we will be visiting the “Felasha” or the Black Jewish village. It is believed that the "Felashas" settled at this village during the time of King Minlik I, the son of Queen of Sheba and King Solomon.


Driving from Gondar up to Simien Mountains National Park, nothing prepares you for the spectacular scenery that awaits at the top of the massif. The rolling grassy plateau comes to an abrupt stop, and sheer cliffs plunge almost vertically for 1,000m (3280 ft) to the plains below. The massif itself has been sculpted by 30 million years of up thrust and erosion into a wonderland of jagged ridges, pinnacles and strangely cropped conical mountains, so that looking out over the heart-stopping precipice; you feel you might just be at the edge of the world.


The rest of the day, trek to explore the surrounding of Sankaber, part of the Simien Mountains National Park. Here you have a good chance of spotting groups of Gelada baboons, one of Ethiopia’s endemic animals.


Accommodation: Simien Lodge-Sankaber. (Meals: B/L/D). 

Day 06: Simien Mountains National Park-Axum

After breakfast start driving to Axum through the beautiful sceneries of Simien Mountains, Limalimo, Tekeze River Gorge.


While driving from Simien Mountains to Axum, you will have a brief stop at different parts of the park for the best view. You will have picnic lunch under the shade of the tree past the Tekeze River Gorge whilst enjoying the beautiful Simien Mountains scenery from distance. The Tekeze river is 608 kilometers long, one of Ethiopia;s main rivers. The canyon which it has created is the deepest in Africa and one of the deepest in the world, at some points having a depth of over 2000 meters.


Past the Tekeze River Gorge, whilst enjoying the beautiful Simien Mountains scenery from distance, you will have picnic lunch under the shade of a tree and continue driving to Axum.


Accommodation: Consular Hotel-Axum. (Meals: B/L/D).

Day 07: Axum

After breakfast, we will start to visit the ancient city of Axum. This is the birthplace of Ethiopian civilization, and by the first century Axum was a major trading center for exotic goods from Egypt, Rome, Nubia, Greece, Syria, and India. 


The Holy Ark of the Covenant was brought here before the destruction of the Temple, and Axum is reputed to be the second Jerusalem. Our visit in Axum include: the Stele Square, Kaleba Tombs, the 4th century Christian inscription of King Ezana, Queen of Sheba’s Palace, Archeological Museum, and Tsion Mariam Church where the original Ark of the Covenant is housed.


Accommodation: Consular Hotel-Axum. (Meals: B/L/D).

Day 08:  Axum-Mekele

In the morning, drive to Mekele, through the stunning and historical mountains of Adwa. You will also visit the pre-Christian temple of Yeha and Wikro Cherkos rock-hewn church when you approach Mekele town.


After check in to Axum Hotel, late in the afternoon drive out of Mekele town to see the camel caravan carrying slat bar from the Afar area and lowest point of the Dallol depression.


Accommodation: Axum Hotel-Mekele. (Meals: B/L/D). 

Day 09: Mekele-Lalibela

After breakfast, start driving north to Lalibela through Sekota. En-route you will visit Yimrhane Kirstos and different villages of the Agwe tribal people.


Dating back to the 12th century, Yimrhane Kirstos is one of the most beautiful built-up cave church. It’s built from marvel, wood and beautifully decorated both from inside and outside. In the back side of the cave, you will also see tons of mummified bodies of pilgrims dating back to the same time.


Accommodation: Mountain View Hotel-Lalibela. (Meals: B/L/D). 

Day 10: Rock-hewn Churches of Lalibela

After breakfast and enjoying the beautiful view from the roof terrace of the hotel, we will drive to the site where we find a concentration of some of Ethiopia’s most famous rock-hewn churches, mostly referred by many as “the living wonders of the world” These churches are, and they have been for at least 800 years, an active Christian shrine, the spiritual center of the country’s religious life. The monolithic churches were carved out of 2,600-sq meter natural rock terrace in the 12-century AD by king Lalibela.


Bete Medhani Alem, the largest monolithic rock-hewn church in the world, measures 37.7 ft in height, covers an area of almost 2625 square ft and has walls that are up to six feet thick. A plain building supported by 36 pillars on the inside and another 36 pillars around the  outside, Bete Medhani Alem was modeled on the original St. Mary Zion Church built by King Ezana in the 4th century at Axum.


The rock-hewn churches that we will visit today include:  Bete Medhani Alem, Bete Mariam, Bete Meskel, Bete Denagil, Bete Golgotha Michael and Bete Giorgis.


After having lunch and rest at the hotel, we will continue our journey into Ethiopia’s long and marvelous past with a visit to other St. Lalibela’s remarkable churches-their architecture and artistry must be seen to be believed. Ones we finished visiting the second group of churches we will walk to the village through the complex bewildering labyrinth of underground tunnels to the monastery were the monks and nuns live.


The rock-hewn churches that we will visit this afternoon include: Bete Gebriel, Bete Mercorios, Bete Amanuel, Bethlehem and Bete Aba Libanos.


Accommodation: Mountain View Hotel-Lalibela. (Meals: B/L/D). 

Day 11:  Lalibela-Asheten Mariam

In the morning, mule ride, and trek to the top of Asheten Mariam Monastery, this is very famous for its 12-century monastery church and beautiful view at 10,298 ft above sea level. We will trek/mule ride through dramatic highland scenery and which eventually ends in a beautiful serene agricultural hamlet.


In the afternoon, visit the ancient city of Lalibela and the rest of the day at leisure. In the evening, there will be Ethiopian traditional coffee ceremony for the group prepared at a local house. Those who can’t face their day with out a cup of coffee may be surprised to know that in it’s birthplace in Ethiopia’s Kaffa region-from which it gets its name- the berries were originally only eaten, never roasted and ground for a drink. Only since the 13th century, coffee has been made a hot drink. Holding a coffee ceremony is a traditional Ethiopian way of welcoming a guest and giving the guest the best hospitality. It is probably one of the most celebrated Ethiopian traditions, and a lifestyle - in which most Ethiopians can identify themselves with.


Accommodation: Mountain View Hotel-Lalibela (Meals: B/L/D).


Day 12: Lalibela- Addis Ababa-Departure

After breakfast, transfer to Lalibela airport for the flight to Addis Ababa. The rest of the day, city tour of Addis Ababa which includes: National Museum, Ethnographic Museum and Merkato, the largest open air market in Africa.


In the evening, there will be Grand complimentary farewell dinner party with traditional special buffet and local drinks. There will also be live national cultural folkloric show of the different ethnic groups the country. There will not be any better way of ending a trip. 


 (Meals: B/L/D).

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Email: zeleketour@gmail.com


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